SWIFT IMPLEMENTATION

Kuwait 2019 | INDUSTRY & FOOD | INTERVIEW

As Kuwait aims to diversify its economy, KIU's goal is to increase the industry sector's contribution to the national income.

Hussain A. Al-Kharafi
BIOGRAPHY
Hussain A. Al-Kharafi is Chairman of Kuwait Industries Union and a board member of Kuwait’s Chamber of Commerce and Industries. He is also Deputy Chairman of Khalid Ali Al-Kharafi & Bros Co., a member of the board of trustees at Australian Collee of Kuwait, a member of the committee of partnership with private sector at KNPC, and a board member at Egypt Kuwait Holding Co. Previously, he was a member of the board of directors at Industrial Bank of Kuwait, National Real Estate Company, and Public Authority for Industry, and Deputy Chairman of the board of directors at Agility Co. Al-Kharadi has a bachelor’s in public administration and political science from the American University of Beirut.

What key role is KIU playing in the industry sector?

Our main objectives are to protect the interests of industries' owners and to see if there are any difficulties and what can be implemented in order to improve the situation. In addition, if any problem arises, we are the bridge that connects owners to governmental entities, with which we have strong ties. So far, we have received positive feedback both from our members and from the public entities that collaborate with us. Most of the issues we are facing are government related; therefore, in some agencies or ministries we have joint committees between KIU and the authority or the ministry concerned in order to efficiently solve any matter that emerges. Our interest is to serve our members and push the ministry or public authority concerned to prepare more land and infrastructure for the industry sector. Our goal is to increase the industry sector's percentage of the national income, which goes hand in hand with the plan of diversification of the Kuwaiti economy. Since we are a private organization, it is important for us to implement our initiatives swiftly because processes and approvals in ministries can take a long time. A number of government agencies seek our help because we can move quickly and approach any party, cabinet, or minister. We also sometimes work as a lobby in order to shed light on specific matters.

In what ways is KIU filling the gap between college education and workplace requirements?

There are thousands of graduated engineers looking for work, and most of them are not suitable to work in the private sector. We mostly focus on two-year diplomas in order to employ people with a workable skillsets instead of people aiming to evolve in the administrative field. There is a psychological war where young people are afraid to work in the private sector and believe that it is more secure to work for the government, where jobs are guaranteed, less stressful, and financially more rewarding. We want to prepare people to work in the private sector and make them understand the mentality of it. We bring them to some factories to see the reality and sometimes we also make agreements with the institution in charge of promoting people to go to the private sector. We have made some contracts and our obligation is to train and employ. We guarantee employment for them by bringing motivated people who have the interest to work in the private sector. We have succeeded so far and are happy to see that our trainees have secured jobs. We also conduct a post-employment review to understand if businesses are satisfied with the people we have selected for them.

What will be your main focus for 2019?

In the short term, we will continue to follow up with the Public Authority of Industry in order to prepare the land distribution of Shandadiya industrial area, which will allow the industry to expand. Overall, there is a better business environment since there is a better understanding of the importance of industry within the economy. I appreciate that several agencies are shifting from manual to online business as this streamlines business practices. Our priorities are hiring Kuwaitis for the local factories. To that end, we are trying to improve education and training in coordination and in partnership with small businesses and the Kuwait National Fund for Small and Medium Businesses. We will also keep helping young entrepreneurs who come to us with an idea by helping them establish a feasibility study. Regarding Kuwaitization, there is a minimum percentage that companies in different sectors have to maintain. The banking sector for example has reached 79% Kuwaitization. However, the same is harder to achieve in the industry sector because jobs usually involve work that many Kuwaitis are not willing to do. In addition, the private sector is not an attractive field for many young graduates who would rather look for a job in a public institution. ✖